Always Flavor It Yourself: Don’t buy foods with salt or sugar added. Let your child and dog discover the real taste of food. Experiment with spices like cinnamon, ginger and anise.
Tooth or Dare: Fight dental decay and gum disease; don’t buy kid- and dog-targeted commercial foods. Children’s cereals “might as well be cookies,” says Marion Nestle in What to Eat. Give your kid and dog an apple to share. Dog food doesn’t promote dental health, and it often contains sugar (as does canine toothpaste!). In the wild, canids’ teeth stay clean through a diet consisting primarily of meat and bones. (With their wolf-like dentition, dogs are classified taxonomically as carnivores, which does not preclude opportunistically eating vegetation, including digestible vegetables.)
Sporting Life: Encourage your kid and dog to play together. Childhood and canine obesity are major health problems. An active lifestyle is as important as a healthful diet with portion control.
Here’s the real treat: When your kid and dog enjoy a shared meal, they’re celebrating the human-animal bond all over again. Bone appetit!
Remember to tailor as needed for the age, weight and allergies of your child and dog. This menu is not “one size fits all”—use as an inspiration, not a prescription.*
Mozzarella and diced zucchini omelet
Fruit in season (Fall apples, Winter pears, Spring strawberries, Summer blueberries)
Yogurt chicken salad wrapped in whole-wheat tortilla (Diced chicken, shredded carrots, apple chunks, plain yogurt)
Dessert: Watermelonsickle (Puréed watermelon on a stick frozen in an ice cube tray, sans stick for the pup)
Hummus dip and cucumber slices
Turkey burger with romaine lettuce and tomato slices; hold the bun, hold the onion! (Calcium bonus: raw turkey neck for your dog, fat-free milk for your kid)
Steamed green beans and peas
Sweet potato “faux fries”
Dessert: Banana boat (Split banana topped with peanuts or almonds and a drizzle of honey)
*Editor’s Note: This menu should not be interpreted as universally appropriate for canine maintenance.
Leslie Crane Rugg and Eva Saks are currently writing The Dog Ate My Cookbook!, a cookbook of tasty meals that dogs and kids can share. Prior credits include AKC Gazette and Dog & Kennel (Rugg); Sesame Street and Playhouse Disney(Saks).